ARUSHA NATIONAL PARK & MOUNT MERU
Don’t overlook the tiny Arusha National Park. Though it covers only 137 square km (58 square miles), it has more to see than many much larger reserves. You’ll find three distinct areas within the park: the forests that surround the Ngurdoto Crater, the brightly coloured pools of the Momella Lakes, and the soaring peaks of Mt. Meru. And with the city of Arusha only a 32-km (20-mile) drive to the northeast, it’s easy to see the park in a day.
Established in 1960, the park was originally called Ngurdoto Crater National Park, but after the mountain was annexed in 1967 it became known as Mt. Meru National Park. Today it’s named for the Waarusha people who once lived in this area. The Maasai also lived here, which is why many of the names for sights within the park are Swahili.
In the North East part of Arusha National Park lies the area known as the Momela Lake. Fringed by green hills, seven lakes nestle in valleys and depressions punctuating the post-volcanic landscape. Their sodium rich contents and the formation of algae make the lakes alkaline, especially the big Momela Lake and Lake Reshateni - therefore all year round a favourable feeding and resting areas for flamingos.
Sinya can visited year round and offers spectacular landscapes with magnificent views of Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru. The area offers excellent game viewing and is home to a Maasai community.
Mount Meru is located in the center of Arusha National Park and about Fifty miles (80 km) west of Mount Kilimanjaro lies is an often overlooked, but spectacular volcano, a beautiful area with a wide range of habitats teeming with wildlife.
On the lower slopes of the mountain and inside the park, there is a good chance of spotting animals. An armed ranger will accompany your party on the first stage to protect against any wildlife threats. The trail follows the north rim of the crater, along a dramatic ridgeline.
Once at the summit, the views of Mount Kilimanjaro and down into Meru crater are unforgettable. Many people who climb both mountains have a quiet preference for the humble Mount Meru.
Although about, Mount Meru is still a very tall mountain. Do not underestimate Mount Meru. Altitude acclimatization is still the key to a successful summit.
Mount Meru is 14,980 feet (4,565 m) high, and serves as a great warm up before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft/5,895 m). Meru is4,000 feet lower than Mount Kilimanjaro In fact, it is ideal for altitude acclimatization and you may elect to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a lower number of days after climbing Meru. On the mountain, there is a good chance of seeing wildlife, and the crowds that can plague Kilimanjaro are non-existent here.
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